As spring arrives that means not just longer and warmer days to look forward to, but a new version of ServiceNow. The Quebec release appears to have very much a platform focus, particularly in the Now Intelligence applications. This shows where the technology of ServiceNow’s recent AI acquisitions are starting to be integrated into the back-end of the platform.
It also highlights the direction of travel for the traditional applications as more of them move to the Store rather than being bundled with the release itself. This makes sense as it allows the business units to ship applications as soon as they are ready, rather than wait for a slot in a future release, which in turn means customers can get value from them far quicker.
Of course, there is always a sprinkling of new features or improvements for existing applications, with SAM, HAM, FSM, CSM, PPM and even native reporting getting some attention, but it wouldn’t be right to not look at the new sweets in the candy store and pick out our favourites.
The first version of UI Builder could only give a small insight of what was to come, but the seeds had been sown. This latest instalment is an improvement a million miles beyond what I expected, the level of no-code/low-code/pro-code configuration and functionality within a very useable IDE makes this a real game changer in user experience.
We have understood this for a while now at UP3 but ServiceNow gets that a traditional form showing a single record with related lists just no longer cuts it. That’s particularly relevant as more business functions adopt the platform and their datasets are numerous, and they need to see this in one view.
UI builder gives customers the chance to build the user interfaces their users are crying out for. From just over 30 UI components in the first release to more than 90 to choose from now, the list is only going to keep growing and you can still build your own if you are that way inclined.
From my understanding ServiceNow worked closely with customers during the development, who would build apps on the latest iteration to see what was missing and then ServiceNow would build it. That has really paid off.
There is always a need to have your ServiceNow processes running as efficiently as possible. while using reports and Performance Analytics could be set up to give you a view it wasn’t really possible to see the transitions from one stage of a process to another at a holistic level.
Step forward Process Optimisation. Having worked with several customers who have used external tools to perform this type of analysis, you now don’t have to. Previously you would have had to export or provide access to the data needed so it could be mined and visualised elsewhere.
But ServiceNow has recognised the opportunity and created a user interface that allows you to build a model of the process you wish to dive into and then visualise how it’s functioning. From number of hops between the nodes you set up, like state, to the time it takes to go between them. This will straightaway give you an insight on the different process journeys your customers have gone through. The application does need an Enterprise licence, but the benefits are significant and functionality can be configured on any audited table so there is lots of scope.
Back in the day you could have ServiceNow run an ACE report on your instance to check for issues and misalignment of configuration against best practice. Some of that capability was moved to be on platform in the Incident Security Centre application.
But now, with Instance Scan, you get the chance to run scans and there are 64 checks out of the box to run whenever you want. What’s even better is you can build your own. At UP3 we have already started using this feature to create checks to scan against our own internal development best practices.
This is a great feature if you are doing a lot of development or have a team working on your instance, as it can check that everyone is adhering to the same standards. When added to the latest Automated Testing Framework capability there should be no reason that poor configuration should make it out of your development instance.
It may seem a little strange to have what seems like a small feature on this list but, in my view, this is one of those that will really grow on people over time and will end up being the default way that users will search lists or for platform content.
Using the Now Intelligence Natural Language Understanding (NLU) allows user to enter a plan language question which is automatically translated into the relevant condition filter, so no more multiple clicks of a date or reference pickers for us!
Just one word of warning: you cannot use this with List v3.
Again, another application that is out of the Now Intelligence product suite. AI search provides what ServiceNow describes as a consumer grade search engine that is available across the entire platform, and they say it is three times faster than the existing zing search.
You can fully configure the search experience, integrate it with custom apps and even use it to search external sources outside of the platform, like SharePoint. Users can enter natural language terms and the backend uses ServiceNow’s Machine Learning to constantly tune and apply normalisation to the search results.
However, this feature needs ServiceNow to put in additional hardware to support the processing required so won’t be available on Personal Developer Instances.
Being able to see how your users are interacting with the platform gives you a great insight into what is working well, and what isn’t. With User Experience Analytics you can do this across your different Mobile Apps and Service Portals. How many new users have we had? Who keeps on coming back? What’s their average session time? What’s been their user journey? All of these things, and much more, can be seen in an easy-to-use workspace, and once the plugins are installed to activate it for a portal is just a click of a UI action away.
We showed this to a customer who we recently built a custom app for, where most of the functionality was Now mobile based, and they were amazed at the level of usage information they got from it.
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